A SEAT-SAVER’S STORY: FROM JULIE ECHOLS REYBURN

When I was coming out, I felt like I didn’t have a seat at my family’s dinner table, with my church community, and some of my friends. I wish someone would have said, “C’mon – you can sit here.” I wish more people would have said, “You’re safe and affirmed in this seat.” Seat saving is the image I cling to for allyship.

Haven’t we all walked into a restaurant, scanned the room for our friends, and lit up when you saw their hand wave? Julie’s words are like the hand joyfully waving you in.

“The first time I was tapped to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community was, uniquely enough, at church. A
transgender child with a terminal health condition asked to be baptized. My church welcomes new
believers into faith and family by inviting a handful of congregants to read scripture during the baptism
service. I was asked to participate in this one. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 18 and 19 how He values
children; the Kingdom belongs to such as these. So, I stood up and I read.

My daddy often told me, “Julie Doll, always keep a sweet spirit about you.” My sweet spirit has taken baby
gifts to a same sex couple. It has purchased art to benefit a program for LGBTQ+ teens. It is not my
nature to be loud, but I do want to be loyal. Some may equate my quiet gestures to silence. I don’t believe
we need a microphone to make a difference.

My daughters never met my daddy. He died before they were born. I carry his legacy as I raise them to
also “keep a sweet sprit” about them. I am teaching them to look for people who are on the fringes of
fellowship, the ones who aren’t sure if or where they fit. I want my daughters to say, “You can sit with me.”
And if they are ever asked, I hope they, too, will stand up and read for anyone who wants to walk with
Jesus.”

Julie writes to encourage families to shape a legacy through everyday life and I love that her legacy is gentle but mighty, and not loud, but loyal. I resonate so deeply with that. Check out more of her work here.

And if you missed previous Seat-Saver’s Stories, here are the links:
Dana Butler, Jenn Mack, Alicia FickBeth Richardson, and mine.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to share more of my stories with you each month to your inbox. Sign up below and receive my Seat-Saver’s Book List (more info here).

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